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Carroll, Iowa
(Fifth Street - looking west)

Carroll Iowa Feb. 1, 1891:  F. W. Stilwill Editor, I would be almost impossible for a person, who had lived his whole life in the old log settled communities of the east, to conceive it to be possible that 30 years ago the ground upon which the splendid town of Carroll now stands, was a bare prairie, with scarcely a sign of civilization in sight. That where these massive brick block's stand, the sod had not even been turned by the pioneer's breaking plow. Such is, nevertheless, a fact, and one that the citizens of this progressive city need not hesitate to feel proud of.

Carroll is located on the North Western railroad 90 miles northwest of Des Moines. and about, the same distance northeast of Council Bluffs. It is located within a mile and a ball of the center of Carroll county, on the Coon river, is the county seat and has a population of about 3300 made up of bright enterprising business men.

Carroll county is one of the best counties in the state. The soil is best suited to the growth of corn, yet a line quality of oats, wheat, and other cereals can be grown. and a yield received sufficient to make it profitable.

Stock raising is becoming one of the leading occupations of Carroll county and the city of Carroll has become quite a stock market.

The land is rolling enough to admit of good drainage without being rough. The farms are all well improved, the buildings commodious and well kept. A stranger driving through the country realizes that he is in a community of thrifty, intelligent and progressive farmers.

Carroll being located in the midst of a county composed of this class of people is in a position that offers encouragement to enterprising business men. and they are taking advantage of it.

The town of Carroll was laid out in August 1867 by the railroad company who were then building the Northwestern road. It was evident to men who were accustomed to close, useful observation that Carroll would be the leading town in Carroll county, and therefore this was the class who settled here and laid the foundation for her present prosperity.

In 1868 the question of moving the county seat from Carrollton to Carroll began to be agitated and in May was decided in favor of the change, by a vote of 88 to 33.  This gave the confidence in the future of the town that went far towards the success.

The first man to go into business in the new town was A. L. Kidder who started a general store in the fall of 1868.  In a few months others followed and by the close of the year 1869 the population of the county seat of Carroll county numbered 384. From that time up to the present, every year was seen a gradual but steady growth. In the last ten years the increase has been heavier than before, and it is not hard to imagine this as a city of twice its present size by the beginning' of the next century. The following figures will bear ns out in this prediction:

Population of 1870—384, 1875-812, 1880—1382, 1885--1885, 1890— 2400, 1897—3300.

Carroll was first incorporated in 1869. The first officers were, mayor, I. N. Griffith: recorder, B. B. Berry: trustees, John W. King, D. Wayne,  L. C. Bailey,  F. E. Bennett. and Wm. T. Booth: attorney, O. H. Manning.

In 1879 Carroll was visited by a very disastrous fire. It seems to be either the fortune or misfortune of every new town to have an experience of this kind sometime during its early history, and we sometimes think it is a necessary thing, for it is seldom that a start is made towards substantial brick buildings until after the merchants have been taught that it was necessary as a protection to their property. In the above mentioned year the town was nearly all frame buildings and so provisions had been made for fire protection. As a result, a fire that need not have extended further than the building in which it originated, spread like a prairie fire and the best portion of the business part of town was entirely destroyed. The loss was about $200,000, with insurance amounting to less than $35,000. Of course the old story of “locking the barn door after the horse was stolen” was repeated, only in this case better “horses” in the way of good brick buildings were put up. The city government at once took measures to prevent the repetition of the late disaster. A well was sunk in the north part of town and a large windmill and tank erected. Water mains were laid over the town and 12 hydrants were put in, a fire engine purchased and a sufficient amount of hose to make quite a complete fire apartment. About $11,000 was spent in the plant. This supplied the town till 1882, when an experiment was tried, at an expense of $9,000. A steam pump was purchased and an attempt made to pump water from the Coon river. There were also some extensions made in the water mains. After two years trial of this, it was found unsatisfactory and in 1894 two deep wells were sunk and two steam pumps put in which have furnished an abundant supply of excellent water. The water works now represent an expenditure of about $30,000.

There are about five miles of water mains, 26 hydrants, 2 deep wells fitted with high grade steam pumps and a horizontal pump for forcing the water through the mains. During the next year it is expected that a stand pipe will be built and then Carroll will have a system of water works as fine as there is in any town of its size in the state.

The splendid railroad facilities of Carroll soon made it apparent that it would eventually become an excellent distributing point and in 1889 the Lett-Fletcher Wholesale Company of Marshalltown decided to establish a branch at this point.  This has developed into one of the best business enterprises of the kind in the western part of the state and Carroll is very proud of it.  As a wholesale distributing point for liquor it has taken quite a prominent place there being four wholesale liquor establishments all in flourishing condition at present.  During the year of 1892 the city had the greatest growth in its history in way of the public and private improvements.  The aggregate of value of these improvements amounting to $300,550.

The buildings were: A normal college, tow new hotels, two categories, two machine shops, two public school building, one electric light plant, heat and power plant, four new business blocks, an extension of the water works and one hundred and ten new dwelling houses.

Like every other town within the borders of this country, Carroll felt the effects of the severe panic of 1893.  Many of her most important industries ere still in their infancy and were not firmly enough established to withstand the continued depression hence the shoe factory and knitting factory were compelled to close their doors.  But it is a remarkable fact that they were the only business firm of any importance that were forced to the wall.  This of itself is as good a recommendation as any town needs as to the stability of its business enterprises.  There is one thing that is sure to impress itself upon the stranger who pays his first visit to Carroll.  That is the solid substantial manner in which all the latest buildings are constructed and the large number of fine residences in proportion to the size of the town.  It tells him at once that these people have confidence in the city and that they have come here to stay.  It also shows that the business men need have no fear of their rating by the commercial agencies.

The city has always been blessed with banking facilities that are thoroughly responsible and conducted by men who had the interest of the town at heart and Carroll has never been visited by that terribly paralyzing disaster-- a bank failure.

In the spring of 1892 the people voted to change the city from one of the third class to one of the second class and it is now under a charter of that grade.  In the matter of educational facilities Carroll is in the front rank.  Care has always been taken to keep the schools up to date in methods and teachers employed who were fully qualified for the positions they were expected to fill.  There are two fine school buildings, one in the south part and the other in the north part.  The north building has nine rooms and the south has five.  They are both built of brick and fitted with all the latest appliances of heat etc.

There are six religious denominations represented in Carroll.  The Methodist, Baptist, German Lutheran, Church of God, Presbyterian and Catholic.  The Catholics have two churches, the St. Joseph and St. Peter and Paul.  The St. Joseph church is one of the finest buildings in his part of the state.  It is built entirely of stone and is indeed an imposing edifice.

2/3 of the above sections Transcribed by: Sandra Carter



         Methodist Church                                                  German Catholic Church


Presbyterian Church                                      Court House       


Coon Rapids

O. J. Niles entered the land on which Coon Rapids now stands in Union Township, in 1855. Mr. Niles was from Western Michigan, and probably of Yankee birth. He was a peculiar character in many respects, and was considered an oracle of wisdom by the first settlers. He was elected a justice of the peace, and frequently acted as agent for the settlers in purchasing household supplies at Des Moines. He lived in a 16x36 log house, the site of Mr. Shute's present residence. It is related that a man named Tuttle, of Tuttle Grove, felt a grievance over a horse trade he had made with Samuel Wilson, and stated the details of the transaction to Squire Niles. The squire listened patiently, and at the close advised Mr. Tuttle that the law in the case was so complicated that he couldn't obtain justice! Some suspicious persons, always inquiring as to the relations of cause to affect, remarked that Wilson was a splendid shot, and Niles was very fond of venison.

The old town of Coon Rapids never had to succeed fifteen houses. The census of 1880 credits the place with fifty-four inhabitants. When, in 1881 the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul Railroad was laid through the southern part of Carroll county and passed near Coon Rapids,  a new town was laid out by the Western Town Lot Company about one-fourth of a mile west of the primitive village and houses went up as if by magic.  So many were building that it is impossible to say who was first.  The most of the growth occurred in 1882 and '83.  The census of 1885 gives Coon Rapids 729 inhabitants.  The town has excellent prospects for further growth and always does a good business with the surrounding country.  The population in '98  is about 1200.

The destructive visitation of the cyclone of April 14, 1886 will never be forgotten by the present inhabitants of Coon Rapids as it did immense damage to the down destroying every thing in its path.

The first graded school building was put up in 1883.  It was a good two story frame containing four rooms; was on the hill north of the main part of town and cost $3,400.  The cyclone of April 14 1886 destroyed this and the same year the present building was erected. It was complete in November at the cost of $4,000.  It is a two story frame painted stone color and contains five rooms. 

The religious denominations represented here are as follows: Methodist Episcopal-Organized by Rev. Merson in 1876 with a small membership.  The church is a building 34x55 feet in size.  The First Presbyterian church was organized on May 14, 1883 by Rev. T. S. Bailey, Synodical Missionary for the Synod of Iowa and is a large commodious building.

The Christian Church of this place was organized first nearly twenty years ago.  A preacher lives here and holds services every month.  In 1882 the church was reorganized by Rev. J. W. W. Waugh.

The Catholics have a frame church in the northwest part of the town built two years ago.  Father Schulte of Templeton holds services here every month.  The membership is largely in the country.



   F. W. Stilwill                                                            J. B. Hungerford

To our Readers:

The Carroll Herald

I dedicate this book of sketches and portraits to the energetic public spirited men and women who have been instrumental in building up a community of refined and intellectual people upon what was in the early history of the lives of most of our readers a wilderness of prairie.  To them more honor is due than they  are generally given credit for.  These pioneers have passed through hardships and privations of which the later generation known nothing.  In this work we have recorded some points of interest in these lines that in future generations will be much more highly appreciated then at present.  While in the space allotted in them I have been unable to do them full justice.  I feel that every good word said of each subject is full merited.

We publish herewith a portrait of the editor of the Herald.  Mr. J. B. Hungerford who has the distinction of being the oldest newspaper man in the city in point of years and the second oldest in the county.  The Herald holds the respected position of the leading Republican weekly in Carroll county and of being one of the most ably edited country weeklies in Western Iowa.  Probably no paper in the state aside from the leading daily's attract more attention and carries more weight in the political attitude of the parity in this state.  His office now occupies the first and second floor of a large brick block on Main street and is a bee hive of industry both in the job and bindery department.  There is a force of from nine to twelve persons employed on the newspaper and in the bindery.  The bindery is owned by our subject and Mr. J. B. Fitzgerald and they are filled up with the latest machinery for bindery and turn out a very supreme class of work.  --F. W. S.



Office Force of the Carroll Herald and Bindery

Miss Mabel Lowry-bindery, Jr. B. Fitzgerald- Prop. & Foreman Bindery, Harry Fahrion-Bindery, Will Ranger-Composition, Harry Darr-Devil

Miss Myrtle Feck-Composition, John Hendrickson-Foreman Herald, Ralph Maclean-Local Editor, Ray Dunphy (?)-Composition



Carroll High School (north side)


The Clio Club

Mrs. Sarah S. Young            Mrs. Mattie K. Watts             Mrs. Ruth O. Culbertson

Miss Rosilia Thurimann           Mrs. Ella M. Burke     Mrs. Edith C. Park         Mrs. Margaret Lee

This is the age in which the women of the world are showing their true worth as they never did before.  In matters of public education and advancement they are taking the lead.

In the city of Carroll the ladies have the honor of maintaining the only club in town and this  one is not devoted to whist, billiards or banqueting but to furnishing means for intellectual advancement.  Its rooms are located on Sixth street between Main and Adam's streets and is composed of two well furnished rooms one of which is used for a club room; the other for the library.  The club was organized in 1884 by a few of Carroll's bright ladies among whom were the names of Mrs. B. Wayne (its first president),  Mrs. E. M. Burke, Mrs. Rayen, Mrs. Macomber and Mrs. Cook as charter members.

The library was selected March 18, 1894 and Mrs. Martha Bangs was the first librarian.  Since then the club has made rapid strides and the library is now composed of 1230 volumes of the choicest literature to be obtained.

The club has raised all the funds for the maintenance and improvement of this library by entertainments give by the organization and are entirely free from debt.  The membership fee is $1 per year for ticket to library or 5 cents per volume.  The club dues are $1 per year and initiation fee 50 cents per member.

The club now has a membership of about fifty composed of the most intelligent ladies of the city.  A literary class meets on Saturday of each week and give a program papers are read the general topics of the day are discussed.  This year the class is studying the history of Russia.

The member of the club are justly proud of their organization for there is no question its rare value as an educational venture.  It speaks well for the future of the younger generation of the city and the masculine portion should give it their hearty support.

The names of the officers are as follows: President, Mrs. Edith C. Park; vice president, Mrs. Ella M. Burke; secretary, Miss Rosalia Thurimann; treasurer, Mrs. Mattie K. Watts; federal secretary, Mrs. Addie L. Wright; library committee, Mrs. Kate L. Macomber, Mrs. Ruth O. Culbertson and Miss Bertha M. Bangs; program committee, Mrs. Ella M. Burke, Mrs. Kate F. Macomber and Mrs. Margaret Lee.


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